Boutae: the Gallo-Roman past of Annecy

For tourists with a passion for history, the city of Annecy is rich in discoveries and a past that has had multiple influences to make this city what it is today. We propose a dive into the Gallo-Roman past of Annecy.

Boutae: a Gallo-Roman vicus

Archaeologists have discovered that a fishing village was established on the shores of Lake Annecy around 3,100 BC. Other excavations have shown the presence of palafittic sites on Lake Annecy, which were villages built on stilts between 4000 and 1500 BC.

Later, the region came under the control of the Allobroges, this tribe was defeated by the Roman consul Quintus Fabius Maximus in 121 BC. This was the beginning of Roman colonisation. The land was offered to the Romans and access north of the Alps was regulated by the occupier.

Under the reign of Emperor Augustus, from 27 BC onwards, the vicus (settlement) of Boutae developed. This town is located between the Avenue des Iles and the Avenue de Genève. The site of the Place des Romains is also part of it (the theatre was located underneath this site).

The facilities built by the Romans were numerous: aqueduct, temples, theatre, two forums. Trade was very active with the rest of Europe under the control of the Roman Empire. This can be explained by the geographical position of Boutae which was a crossroads of three important Roman roads: towards Faverges, towards Geneva and towards Aix-les-Bains. To reach Italy from Annecy, travellers took the imperial route over the Petit Saint Bernard pass.

The decline of Boutae

From the 3rd century onwards, the Roman Empire weakened and suffered repeated attacks from barbarian invasions. In 251, the town was razed to the ground and the inhabitants were killed. They took refuge in the caves of Mont Veyrier. Despite a period of calm, the attacks resume and the Burgundians and then the Franks occupy the city.

In the 8th century, the inhabitants left the plain to take shelter on the hill of Anniciaca, which gave its name to Annecy. This hill is now located in the commune ofAnnecy-le-Vieux.

Discover Boutae

Guided tours of the Gallo-Roman past are organised by the town of Annecy. You can discover the remains of Roman monuments, as well as the excavation of a house from that period. The Annecy Castle Museum also offers a very complete collection of objects from the Gallo-Roman era that have been found in Annecy for over 150 years.

News: the Annecy Castle Museum is presenting a temporary exhibition of Gallo-Roman archaeological discoveries in Annecy until 12 October 2020. Find out more: “Past under the magnifying glass – Investigations into the Roman treasures of Annecy” exhibition

Video on the exhibition Investigating the Roman treasures of Annecy